Air Carrier Access Act – Requiring Attendants for Disabled Passengers

Air Carrier Access Act – Requiring Attendants for Disabled Passengers

Generally, the Air Carrier Access Act and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Rules prohibit air carriers from requiring disabled persons to travel with an attendant. However, carriers may require the following persons to be accompanied by an attendant:

* a person traveling on a stretcher or in an incubator, for flights where such service is offered;

* a person who, because of a mental disability, is unable to comprehend or respond appropriately to safety instructions from carrier personnel;

* a person with a mobility impairment so severe that the person is unable to assist in his or her own evacuation from the aircraft; or

* a person who has both severe hearing and severe vision impairments which prevent him or her from receiving and acting on necessary instructions from carrier personnel when evacuating the aircraft during an emergency.

When a carrier and a person disagree about the applicability of one of these criteria, the carrier may require the person to travel with an attendant. However, the carrier cannot charge for the transportation of the attendant

Carriers are not required to furnish attendants. However, if a carrier chooses to furnish attendants, the carrier may do so in a number of ways. The carrier may designate an-off duty employee who happens to be traveling on the same flight to act as the attendant. The carrier or the person with a disability may seek a volunteer from among other passengers on the flight to act as the attendant. The carrier may provide a free ticket to an attendant of the person’s choice for that flight segment.

The attendant is not required to provide personal service to the person with a disability other than to provide assistance in the event of an emergency evacuation.

If there is not a seat available on the flight for the attendant, and, as a result, a person with a disability holding a confirmed reservation is denied travel on the flight, the person with a disability is eligible for denied boarding compensation. For the purpose of determining whether a seat is available for an attendant, the attendant shall be deemed to have checked in at the same time as the person with a disability.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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